life lost to addiction is one life too many. That is both the tag line
for the Jamie Daniels Foundation and a truism the Daniels family never
thought would apply to one of their own.
the signs were there well before Jamie’s death in 2016. As his mom
describes it, what started with a misdiagnosis of ADHD had the telltale
signs of drug abuse — but was all too tempting to explain away.
A perfectionist struggling with mental illness and relying
on opioids in a vicious cycle, Jamie would lie directly to his parents
about being high. It was easier for them to overlook the changes in
their son than to confront the reality of the situation.
distance between today’s struggles with addiction and the start of
lifelong sobriety can be as incremental as signaling to those around you
and changing lanes. But it can feel like slamming on the brakes and
pivoting in an instant. As a result, people too often either keep
barreling down the same destructive path or turn so hard they spin out.
That experience was all to literal for Jamie. When his sister’s phone rang, she didn’t know the number but she knew — knew
from her brother’s erratic behavior and abrupt departure days earlier
— that she needed to answer it. Jamie had flipped his car driving home
from her apartment and was ready to seek help to support his sobriety.
In Florida, Jamie’s 180 degree turn toward
safety and sobriety spun into a 360 that ended with his death from an
overdose. Out of his family’s reach and into the grasp of what they
later understood to be a “broken, billion-dollar recovery industry,”
Jamie fought his way to seven months sober.
the same time, the Daniels family was unknowingly falling victim to
patient brokering, where their comprehensive insurance coverage and
distance left unscrupulous facilities to fraudulently charge for
questionable treatments and phantom testing with impunity.
under circumstances and for reasons that remain a tragic mystery, Jamie
took “a synthetic opioid that included a mix of heroin and fentanyl, a
substance 100 times more potent than morphine.” Whoever it was that
supplied Jamie with the drugs left him there to die.
life lost to addiction is one life too many. The Jamie Daniels
Foundation seeks to end the stigma that is fueling the addiction crisis
by providing education, resources, guidance, and support to people
battling drug addiction so that lives can be saved and healing can be
created within families.
Jamie’s dad, it’s clear in hindsight that the “shame and stigma”
associated with addiction make the hurdles to overcoming it that much
higher. For his mom, the real shame is that people disassociate
substance problems from mental illness even though fully half of people
suffering from substance use disorder also struggle with mental illness.
family would rather you talk — about him and them, about what they did
or didn’t do — than give over our power to fight the epidemic to a
conspiracy of silence.